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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-U035-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

Scope is a notion used by logicians and linguists in describing artificial and natural languages. It is best introduced in terms of the languages of formal logic. Consider a particular occurrence of an operator in a sentence – say, that of ‘→’ in (1) below, or that of the universal quantifier ‘∀’ in (2) below.

  • (1) A → (B & C)

  • (2) ∀x(Bxy →∃ yAxy)

Speaking intuitively, the scope of the operator is that part of the sentence which it governs. The scope of ‘→’ in (1) is the whole sentence; this renders the whole sentence a conditional. The scope of ‘&’, on the other hand, is just ‘(B & C)’. In (2), the scope of the quantifier ‘∀’ is the whole sentence, which allows it to bind every occurrence of x. The scope of ‘∃’ is only ‘∃yAxy’. Since ‘Bxy’ is outside its scope, the ‘y’ in ‘Bxy’ is left unbound.

Citing this article:
Richard, Mark. Scope, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-U035-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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